Two weekends ago, while a “snowpocalypse” was threatening Chicago, temperatures in Sydney rose to a balmy 108 degrees Fahrenheit!
I grew up in Chester, Virginia, so I am not unaccustomed to heat; in fact the day I left for Sydney this past August, it was 105 degrees outside. However, there is something different about the heat here in Australia. The sun beats down here, as you can see in the iconic Australian photograph, The Sunbaker.
What is so different about the Australian sun? Ozone. Or lack of ozone, really. The Antarctic Ozone Hole has at times extended to Australia and portions of South America, as you can see in this video, and the ozone layer over Australia itself has been depleted by five to nine percent since the 1960s.
Depleted ozone levels, and correspondingly high UV radiation levels have led Australia to have one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world.
2 in 3 Australians develop skin cancer by age 70, and each year, approximately 1850 Australians die from skin cancer, according to the national Cancer Council. Accordingly, the Cancer Council has developed an aggressive and highly successful public health campaign. For example, since the 1980s, Sid the Seagull has been informing the public of the risks of sun exposure and preventative measures. See for yourself!
….and he’s still doing his job today! Except now he’s computer-animated, and he has even more pointers!
I am even reminded about the dangers of skin cancer on my daily commute, as I pass several skin cancer clinics on my way to work.
As for me, I think I will keep my hat and sunnies on, while slopping on as much sunscreen as I can!
2. The Year of the Rabbit
It was a pretty crazy production….
….complete with innumerable rabbits….
….in addition to all of the other new year animals (can you tell that these were my favorite?)
The new year celebrations continued the following weekend with a visit to Darling Harbour to watch the Dragon Boat Races- check out these boats!
3. Field Season, again!
We have been back in the field for three weeks now (although this week I am taking a “break” to work on another experiment), and we are picking up the experiments that we put out in November.
Unfortunately, I did not take any pictures during fieldwork as I was too busy organizing plates and grabbing sediments, but I will try to take more photos in the coming weeks. We have already retrieved our experiments from Sydney Harbour, Port Hacking, Newcastle, and Port Stephens, and this week, the field team is hard at work in Botany Bay and Port Kembla.
I did manage to grab photos of a quick afternoon excursion (and swim!) to Port Stephens following fieldwork…..
Pretty beautiful, huh?
And boy, does it feel good to wash off all of that fieldwork grime!
Our group also awoke early on the last day for a sunrise breakfast on the shores of our estuary.
We may have missed the sunrise….
The past couple of weeks have been busy with work, but I’m excited to finish collecting our plates, and to see what communities have been growing on them these past three months.